Many people choose where they travel to based on how extensive the food scene at the destination in question. A lot of friends and travellers I know travel this way in the search to find a cuisine they haven’t tried or have been wanting to try. It can be a challenge when certain countries don’t have a specific cuisine per se but when you’re invited to a foodie city like Toronto, you know you’re in for a treat regardless.
It’s no surprise to anyone, especially those long-time loyal followers of Fresh and Fearless, that I’m a real fine dining fiend. I don’t see fine dining as “just a meal”, I see it as an experience from start to finish. The service, the food, the small in-between amuse-bouche style dishes, the atmosphere, ambience, and views all add up and forms the complete package.
When I was researching good places to eat in Toronto, TOCA, a restaurant that resides at the Ritz-Carlton Toronto came up every single time. When it is featured on 15 different websites and forums as a “must visit” restaurant when in Toronto, how could I say no?
We saved the best until last, dining at TOCA at our final night in Toronto before we took an early morning flight to New York City.
We kicked off our meal with a delicious glass of yellow label Veuve Clicquot, toasting to a fantastic trip so far and for the delicious meal we were about to enjoy.
We were brought out a lovely amuse-bouche to start, a love heart shaped slice of beetroot with cream cheese and a piece of pecorino to clear our palette. Love was definitely in the air still, since it was the weekend after Valentine’s Day, meaning quite a few couples were celebrating a few days late with a romantic meal in the most perfect setting.
Zoe and I both struggled with what to choose for our starters. There were so many delicious antipasti options available, but there was also the option at TOCA to have a pasta dish as a smaller portion, served as a starter. I’m a huge pasta fan and was completely sold on the Signature Ravioli ‘Capresi’, which was homemade ravioli stuffed with
For our means, I decided to go for the “Pollo Ruspante” which was organic chicken cooked in well-seasoned batter, served with polenta chips, pepperonata and pickled mustard seeds. The chicken was tender and extremely flavoursome, which perfectly paired with the sweet, spicy sauce drizzled over the top. An absolute winner for me!
Zoe ordered the “Agnello” which was pan-seared Ontario rack of lamb served with confit lamb shoulder, chicory, shallots and black garlic. The lovely aroma from Zoe’s Agnello was stunning. The lamb was cooked medium, with a perfectly slow cooked lamb shoulder, and al-dente shallots brought together with warm, seasoned gravy — such a hearty dish.
Zoe and I were both so full, but we’re both suckers for Italian desserts too. I have a huge weakness for tiramisu, and I knew it would be a dessert on the menu. Alas, I was right and I couldn’t resist but I knew I couldn’t finish it myself. Like the good friend Zoe is, she kindly decided to take one for the team and pitch in. The things I put her through; I mean forcing her to eat the creamiest, light, delicate, mouthwatering tiramisu — what kind of bad friend am I?!
In true Ritz-Carlton style, the chef sent out an extra dessert, because he wanted to share a little extra of his sweet treats with us that evening. It is impossible to reject a chef’s kind offering, even if you are completely stuffed. Especially when it is succulent, moist chocolate cake served with summer fruits, raspberry coulis and an extra bit of love. The perfect way to end our last meal in Toronto.
The Ritz-Carlton hotel group never fail to show true hospitality, whether it’s through their hotels or their dining outlets. It’s always great to know you will be well looked after, where ever in the world you are. TOCA is a huge credit to the brand itself, with a major hat off to Chef Oliver Glowig for bringing his finest piece of Italy to Toronto and leading this hidden gem.